woman in black bikini top standing on water during daytime

For The Girl Who Struggles To Love Herself

As you sit on the floor with your head in the bowl purging
the scourge of emptiness,

feeling the ache of unworthiness,
fraudulent in your image.

It is not just pain you feel,
it is darkness.

Almost all consuming you, but with borders of light
that glimmer in the distance.

You know the love of your family
and friends as you attempt to rationalize that you too must be worthy.

How can you be so beautiful on paper yet
so plainly ugly in your reflection?

Little girl, you try to capture the light in the eyes
of the bright people who love you.

You try to seize it, contain it, control it.
If only you could just once feel its embrace.

You are told that happiness is bliss, but sometimes happiness is hard,
and ignorance is the only bliss there is.

Pretend, pretense, nonsense, emptiness.
There is no pain, no love.

You accept that the ideal little girl is perfection,
in her beauty, in her mind.

But you will learn that she is perfectly trapped in all directions
from the expectation and objectification,

of an awe-full cultured community of mirrors that only show her own flaws, her own internal altercation,
so a perfect mask is easier.

You stand on the shoulders of giants,
haunted by your privileged weight, by the guilt that you are crushing them beneath your feet.

You feel as though you cannot just be,
you must achieve, deliver, conquer.

But to do so you must ritually slaughter your own being
to feed the perfect image your mind projects

onto a world you have constructed
in the dark, wearing your perfectly empty mask.

Little girl, you are very small, but you’re growing,
you will be all grown up some day.

You will learn that you can choose
to turn off the light, turn on the light, be the light,
but it’s also okay to just be you.

You will learn that doing good and being good
is more important than doing the best and being the best.

Being is more important than achieving,
and nothing that is alive is perfect.

This life does not have to be a test whose answers
are painfully hidden from view, hidden from you.

You are loved without a trace
of feeling loved.
But you will learn that love is a place, love is a choice, love is a verb.

Little girl, you are alive.
I love you. I am you. One day you will start to love me too.

Incoming physician, soon to be wife, aspiring dog mom. Feminist.

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